Cornwallis debate: Coast guard working with Indigenous group to change ship name

Cornwallis debate: Coast guard working with Indigenous group to change ship name

Cornwallis debate: Coast guard working with Indigenous group to change ship name

HALIFAX — The federal government is asking an Indigenous group to recommend a new name for a Canadian Coast Guard ship that pays tribute to a British military officer who offered a bounty for the scalps of Mi’kmaq people.

“This is an important step in reconciliation,” Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan said in an interview Tuesday, adding that Ottawa will be working with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs to come up with a new name.

“It’s about righting an historic wrong.”

The Halifax-based icebreaker known as Canadian Coast Guard Ship Edward Cornwallis is undergoing a refit in Nova Scotia and will be renamed later this year, before it leaves the Shelburne Shipyard, Jordan confirmed Tuesday.

Cornwallis is perhaps best known as the man who founded Halifax in 1749, but his mission to establish a garrison town included eliminating Indigenous resistance and, at one point, approving a scalping proclamation to “take or destroy the savages.”

The federal government says the colonial governor tried to drive the Mi’kmaq from their lands through “barbaric measures.”

Chief Terry Paul, co-chairman of the assembly, described Cornwallis as a monster.

“He was a murderer,” Paul said in an interview. “Who in their right mind would want to commemorate a monster like that? That’s what our feelings are in the raw. And this is why we are very grateful that the minister and the federal government has taken those steps to remove this name.”

Paul said the government’s decision to recognize the dark legacy of early settlers was an example of “reconciliation in action.”

“By renaming the ship, we don’t feel that this is erasing history,” said Paul, who represents the Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton.

“In fact, it is acknowledging the horrific history of injustice and inequality that took place in our country’s past — some of which still exists today …. Removing Cornwallis’s name is a step towards healing for many of us.”

In Nova Scotia, Cornwallis’s name has already been removed from a street in Sydney and a church and a school in Halifax.

In January 2018, a large statue of the man was removed from a park in downtown Halifax. At the time, Mayor Mike Savage said the bronze figure was an impediment to forging respectful relationships with the Mi’kmaq.

Before it was pulled off its pedestal, the statue had become a flashpoint for protests. A municipal committee with Indigenous members is in the process of deciding what to do with the statue.

“Cornwallis’s legacy does not reflect the values Canadians hold today, and his name is a painful reminder to many Indigenous peoples of the racism and inequality their ancestors endured and that many still face today,” the Fisheries and Oceans Department said Tuesday in a statement.

The icebreaker CCGS Edward Cornwallis entered service in 1986 and its home port is the Canadian Coast Guard base in Dartmouth, on the east side of Halifax harbour.

Earlier this year, a $12.1-million contract was awarded to Shelburne Ship Repair to refit the vessel to extend its service. That work is expected to be completed early next year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2020.

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

Indigenous

Just Posted

Photo Courtesy: Echo Lacombe Association logo.
Lacombe City Council supports Echo Lacombe with location for pilot program

Echo Lacombe Association will run a pilot propgram on food rescue until November, 1, 2021

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer COVID cases continue to fall

114 cases in Red Deer, down one from Saturday

File Photo
Blackfalds RCMP seeking suspects in traffic collision

RCMP are asking the public for help identifing two suspects wanted for multiple offences

Maskwacis Pride crosswalk (Left to right): Montana First Nation Councillor Reggie Rabbit, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Louise Omeasoo, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Shannon Buffalo, Samson Cree Nation Chief Vern Saddleback.
Pride in Maskwacis

The 4th inaugural Maskwacis Pride crosswalk painting took place on Saturday June 12th, 2021

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Most Read